Leaders and trainers of disciple making movements face many challenges. Christian leadership is an often painful journey. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we often are “leading with a limp.”
I remember when my husband and I took our first ministry position. We were straight out of Bible college and full of ideas. We had a great passion to change the world. It only took a few months, however, before we hit major obstacles and massive challenges. We soon realized we were in far over our heads!
In his book, “Leading with a Limp,” Dan Allender writes,
“The leader who doesn’t feel pressed to the wall often is not involved in a work that is advancing sufficiently against the forces of darkness. But the burned-out leader has allowed the intensity and exhaustion of his calling to take away the pleasure of hope.”
In pursuing disciple making movements among the unreached, we are very often pressed against a wall as we strive to see the Kingdom of God advance against the powers of darkness. It is easy to allow the intensity and exhaustion to affect our ability to hope.
During a recent sabbatical break, I listened to “Leading With A Limp.” I share this review and my takeaways from it in the hope that it will encourage you. If you have time, I recommend reading or listening to the whole book. You can get the book on Amazon or Audible if you prefer to listen like I often do.
Leading with a Limp by Dan Allender
“Leading with a Limp” is a rich feast for leaders. With transparency, Allender describes the ups and downs of his personal leadership journey at Mars Hill Seminary. He writes of the character of a leader and of the cost. Six leadership realities: Crisis, Complexity, Betrayal, Loneliness, Weariness, and Glory are described in Chapter Three. When experiencing these realities, a leader comes face to face with their own weaknesses.
Allender encourages us to acknowledge that we, as leaders, are the “chief sinners” in our organizations (or for us – in our movements). Leading from this kind of transparency is in opposition to the way the world operates. It carries risks. The book does not minimize these but helps the reader understand why they are worth taking.
Fear of betrayal and isolation for a leader leads to unhealthy hiding, manipulation and a desire to control. For example, one of the most difficult trials a leader can face is removing staff without being able to share the full details with others in the organization. This sets the leader up for attacks, gossip, and misunderstanding.
Allender says that disillusioned leaders are the best leaders. Disillusionment can be a pathway to freedom and hope. It is in this that leaders come to grips with their own limitations and embrace their great need to depend on God. They learn to walk with a limp.
The final chapter gives helpful insights into the roles of prophet, priest, and king. Allender shows how these three operate in an uncomfortable but necessary tension with one another.
My biggest takeaway was being encouraged to embrace my weaknesses and the high cost of leadership, allowing disillusionment and the death of idealism to birth a new and realistic hope within me. The description of the prophetic aspect of leadership was also very affirming.
“Prophets disrupt complacency and awaken desire through dreaming,” he writes.
They call people to dream about going to a new level in God’s plans and desires for the organization. They aren’t always welcomed but are needed for God’s purposes to come about.
I believe that anyone involved in disciple making movements has to in some way be willing to disrupt complacency and awaken a desire for something more.
God has so much more in store for His church! He has so much more He desires to do among the unreached!
To see disciple making movements come about we must be willing to be prophetic voices in the church. We must be willing to “rock the boat” and face the uncomfortable tensions that come from this. At the same time, we need to be willing to live our lives like Paul, acknowledging that we are the chief of sinners. We must be willing to embrace a lifestyle of leading with a limp.
Interested in other good books? Great leaders are constant learners and read about a variety of topics. There are some good suggestions in The 6 Best Books I Read This Year.